Will the SEC shine on Texas and Oklahoma?
Big oil is under attack. So it is doing what any other group would do to protect itself from regulators and turn a huge profit: it’s trying to play football in the SEC.
The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma want to join college football’s one sure thing and true power conference.
College football realignment rumors whip the sport’s fans into a frenzy, without fail.
The grass in the new yard is always greener for the schools looking to make the move. For the conference taking in the new schools, it’s like adding a pool in the backyard. They think of how much more enjoyable Saturdays are going to be and the added value to the house. Once the novelty wears off, people usually find out what a pain it is to take care of a pool. Remember when the SEC was excited about having South Carolina as a new member?
These are very different programs, though. Maybe it has reached the point where the oil money at Texas and Oklahoma has just about had enough. It could be they are tired of taking a back seat to schools in the SEC they once viewed as nothing more than roughnecks.
While the decision-makers inside these institutions are really the only people who know what will happen, there are still a few things we can say for certain from the outside looking in.
Greg Sankey will make the right decision
Those advocating for some kind of national college football czar need to recognize that the sport already has one. His name is Greg Sankey, and he is the commissioner of the SEC. Sankey assumes control over college football in much the same way the President of the United States is regarded as the leader of the free world.
It was almost exactly a year ago that Sankey single-handedly saved the 2020 season. If Sankey believes it is in the best interest of the SEC for Texas and Oklahoma to gain membership in the conference, can you guess what is going to happen?
The better question is if he thinks it is, in fact, in the conference’s best interest. We are talking about a conference which has dominated the last 15 years on the field and in the revenue department.
Is adding two more schools a necessity or a luxury? Sankey undoubtedly knows the answer to that question.
Sure, the member schools get to vote. But Sankey has earned the trust and credibility to steer the process.
Texas A&M is not happy
This is not exactly breaking news nor thoughtful analysis. They’ve said so.
The Aggies fled the Big 12 for more money — and to get away from the Longhorns.
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork did not hesitate to say so when asked.
How does Texas A&M feel about UT potentially joining the SEC? … Not good. Not good at all.
“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas.”
-Ross Bjork, Texas A&M Athletics Director pic.twitter.com/pR17eM9aQK
— Jeff Jones (@JeffJonesSports) July 21, 2021
Texas A&M’s camp felt dismayed enough by the expansion momentum that it leaked the information in an effort to derail the process.
They really don’t understand that it was leaked from the A&M side 🤦🏻♂️ https://t.co/OtwqdM2ako
— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) July 22, 2021
Head coach Jimbo Fisher was prepared when he was asked at SEC Media Days about Texas wanting into the SEC.
“I bet they do,” Fisher snickered.
He went on to brag about the strength of a conference which has won 11 of the last 14 national championships.
But 11 of 14 is an important equation for another reason. SEC bylaws require 11 of 14 teams to approve the addition of new members. No doubt Texas A&M is trying to whip votes against Texas from within the “No-Instate Rivals” caucus. Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina have a long-standing pact to prevent their instate rivals — Georgia Tech, FSU, Louisville and Clemson — from becoming SEC programs.
If the Aggies can get three of the four to hold, then all this expansion talk is pointless.
Negotiating tactics rule the day
Legendary college football commentator Tony Barnhart thinks Texas and Oklahoma’s exit from the Big 12 is a known fact.
This much we know:
Texas-OU are leaving Big 12. The question is where they will go.
If Texas-OU join the SEC, the conference will have to completely rethink its football scheduling model.
If a vote is ever taken on admitting Texas-OU to the SEC, it will be 14-0 (publicly).
— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) July 22, 2021
Maybe. Maybe not.
Texas has flirted with leaving before and was welcomed back with open arms.
If someone else other than Texas A&M leaked the expansion talks, then one might conclude the whole thing is a ploy by Texas and Oklahoma to get more money out of the Big 12’s next television contract.
Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported that Texas and Oklahoma planned to notify the Big 12 next week that the schools would not renew grant-of-rights contracts with the conference. This is the lawyer’s way of saying, “Bye. Last one to leave, flip the lights off.”
One thing Barnhart is correct about is that there will not be any “no” votes if the SEC takes big oil in.
It sounds like votes are still being counted, though.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia